ADRIANO BANCHIERI (1568 - 1634)
Adriano Banchieri was a man of considerable versatility, a composer, dramatist, organist and theorist. Born in Bologna in 1568, he studied the organ and composition as a pupil of Gioseffo Guami, who had himself studied with Adrian Willaert and Annibale Padovano as a member of the musical establishment at St Marks in Venice, where he was later second organist under Giovanni Gabrieli, before returning to his native Lucca as organist at the cathedral there. Banchieri entered the Olivetan monastic order in 1587, taking the name in religion of Adriano and in 1590 making his solemn profession. Thereafter he was employed at various houses of his order, serving as organist in Lucca in 1592, in Siena the following year and from 1596 at S Michele in Bosco near Bologna, where he had moved in 1594. His term of service there was interrupted from 1600 to 1604, when he was organist at S Maria in Regola at Imola, followed by employment at the monastery of S Pietro at Gubbio and subsequently at churches in Venice and in Verona. In 1607 he dedicated the new organ at the Siena mother-house of his order, Monte Oliveto Maggiore. In 1609 he returned to S Michele in Bosco. There, in 1615, he founded the Accademia dei Floridi, assuming the name of Il dissonante, following the usual practice of these enthusiastic groups of scholars, musicians and amateurs, the members of which took more or less appropriate pseudonyms. Monteverdi visited the Accademia in 1620 on the occasion of his eldest son Francescos entry into the order of Discalced Carmelites, where, presumably, he hoped to continue his activities as a musician. The Accademia held a meeting on 13th June, the feast of St Anthony of Padua, in Monteverdis honour, with the additional presence of a number of leading musicians from Bologna, including Girolamo Giacobbi, maestro di cappella at the basilica of S Petronio, an important musical centre, a close friend of Banchieri. The Accademia changed its name to the Accademia dei Filomusi in 1622, when it began to meet in the house of Girolamo Giacobbi, a change followed by the emergence in 1633 of the Accademia dei Filaschi, the direct progenitor of the influential Accademia Filarmonica of Bologna, established in 1666. Banchieri was given the honorary title of Abbot in 1618, moving to S Bernardo in Bologna only in 1634, the year of his death from apoplexy.
Banchieri occupied a position of importance among his contemporaries as an organist. As a theorist, he involved himself in the musical controversies of the time, in particular in attempts to reconcile the traditional modal practice of composers with the new tendency towards major and minor keys. Compositions of his were printed with an organ bass and with dynamic directions of piano or forte, a practice unusual at the time. He wrote a quantity of church music, but also added significantly to secular repertoire in a series of three-voice canzonettas, often reflecting dramatic situations or characters drawn from the traditional commedia dellarte or from a particular place. Influenced by Orazio Vecchis LAmfiparnasso, of which he made his own paraphrase, he carried the art of comedy in music a step further, making use of his own skill as a writer and an expert on local dialects in the North of Italy. His writings in other fields were often issued under the pseudonym of Camillo Scaliggeri dalla Fratta, or, in the case of his popular La nobilità dellasino (The Nobility of the Ass) the improbable Attabalippa dal Peru.